In the U.S. National Institutes of Health publications results database, there is an article “The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin: SARS-COV-2 chimeric structure and furin cleavage site might be the result of genetic manipulation”
The NIH database article by Rosanna Segreto and Yuri Deigen does not rule out the possibility that the COVID-19 virus can be genetically manipulated.
“On the basis of our analysis, an artificial origin of SARS-CoV-2 is not a baseless conspiracy theory that is to be condemned and researchers have the responsibility to consider all possible causes for SARS-CoV-2 emergence. The insertion of human-adapted pangolin CoV RBD obtained by cell/animal serial passage and furin cleavage site could arise from site-directed mutagenesis experiments, in a context of evolutionary studies or development of pan-CoV vaccines or drugs. A recent article in Nature affirms that a laboratory origin for SARS-CoV-2 cannot be ruled out, as researchers could have been infected accidentally, and that gain-of-function experiments resulting in SARS-CoV-2 could have been performed at WIV. Genetic manipulation of SARS-CoV-2 may have been carried out in any laboratory in the world with access to the backbone sequence and the necessary equipment and it would not leave any trace. Modern technologies based on synthetic genetics platforms allow the reconstruction of viruses based on their genomic sequence, without the need of a natural isolate.
A thorough investigation on strain collections and research records in all laboratories involved in CoV research before the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak is urgently needed. Special attention should be paid to strains of CoVs that were generated in virology laboratories but have not yet been published, as those possibly described in the deleted WIV database. Because finding a possible natural host could take years, as with the first SARS, or never succeed, equal priority should be given to investigating the natural and laboratory origins of SARS-CoV-2.”
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On January 6, 2014, Professor Shi Zhengli received a US grant of USD 665,000 from the National Institute of Health (NIH) for a study named ‘The Ecology of Bat Coronaviruses and Risk of Future Coronavirus Emergence’ (NIAID R01 AI1 10964).
On January 10, 2014, Shi Zhengli received an additional USD 559,500 grant from the United States Agency of International Development for a research study entitled ‘Emerging Pandemic Threats’.